Quick Silver trudged slowly through the deep snow. He was a large pony, but even the snow wanted to swallow him as it covered his knees. His soft gray coat was wet from the melted snow, and his white mane and tail were damp from the snowflakes that had fallen on them. The only thing that kept him warm was his armor – bright, shining, violet armor. It would normally be cool to the touch, but in the winter, the Royal Guard was given insulated armor to keep from freezing during the bitter cold. His helmet protected his eyes from the incoming snow as he kept climbing up the mountain. His destination was at the top, and he was determined to reach it. His goal was simple: to pick a flower from the mountaintop and bring it back for his princess.
But this was no ordinary flower; it was special. More special than a rose or daisy found at the market. This was a Winter Lily. A flower so rare and hard to find, that few even believe it exists. The flower itself holds magical properties. At first glance, it is green and normal like any other plant. But when struck by the light of the first full moon of winter, it changes from a plain flower, to one with a magical beauty that shines with the light of moon itself. It is also special in the way that once it blooms, it will not wilt until the first day of spring.
He would find that flower and bring it home.
Even though the sun was still out, he could not see. A harsh wind had formed and began to blow in his face, taking any ice in the air with it. His brown eyes squinted as he tried to see and struggled against the wind. He had his goal, and he would not give up until he achieved it.
When his hooves met hard rock, he looked up. His eyes widened as the size of the tunnel before him. Quietly stepping inside, he knew he was on the right track; he could feel it in his bones. If he could get past the tunnel and its guardian, he would be on the hidden path that would take him where he wanted to go. The path was a well kept secret by the few who have managed to reach it. The others never did as they faced one big problem – the Crystal Guardian.
He had never seen it, but according to legend, the guardian was a massive dragon whose scales shone like crystal. It protected the flowers with its sharp claws and gleaming teeth from anyone who wanted to take them. The dragon considered the Lily its greatest treasure, never to be seen by outsiders.
His steps were slow and quiet. Ears pricked forward as he could make out the faraway sound of snoring. With each step, he grew closer to the dragon, and in doing so, closer to discovery. He made his breath slow and his hooves silent. He did not want to wake up the mighty beast. After what seemed like an eternity, he found the mouth of a large cave. Peering inside, he quickly ducked behind the wall. Taking a deep breath, he slowly looked inside.
A large dragon slept peacefully on top of a pile of glittery treasure. Small beams of moonlight shone through the cracks above it. He was amazed that the legends about the dragon were true. His white scales shone and sparkled like crystal under the moonlight, reflecting onto the walls of black rock. Large, silver claws dug into the coins and gems that made his bed. A long, scaly tail wrapped itself around its huge body. The silvery spines along his back seemed to glow under the light, giving the dragon a god-like appearance.
Quick Silver shook his head and focused. He did not want to be hypnotized by the monster as he had a job to complete. Watching his step with a careful eye, he slowly made his way along the edges of the cave. Brown eyes watched the Crystal Guardian, careful not to wake him and reveal himself to the beast. He froze when his hoof collided with a small pile of gems, sending them crashing to the ground.
He began to sweat as the dragon stirred from its slumber. He dared not move, but gave a sigh of relief when the dragon simply rolled over and continued snoring. Being more careful, he made his way to the small tunnel hidden at the back of the cave. Once he had made it inside the tunnel, he let out a breath that he did not know he was holding. Staying silent, he quickly walked down the dark path. His direction was true when he felt cold air on his face.
Upon his exit of the tunnel, he saw a small, bluish trail leading up to a hole in the mountain ahead of him. With a deep breath, he took a step forward. When his hoof touched the cold ground, he heard a crack and looked down. The blue trail was beginning to crack. He watched in horror as the crack continued to crawl up the mountain while growing in size. His eyes widened when the crack went under a large pile of snow, causing it to come crashing down the mountain, bringing more snow along with it.
Narrowing his eyes, he stood his ground as his horn began to glow a soft gray. He waited until the avalanche had come close before making his move as he focused his magic. Once the avalanche was upon him, his magic quickly surrounded his body, protecting him from the impact. He then charged straight into the snow.
It was heavy and thick, but he pushed through. He could feel it shifting under his hooves, just waiting to slide out and swallow him. Knowing that he could only last for so long, he picked up the pace. If he didn't hurry, his magic would run out and the snow would have him.
His magic fizzled to a stop just as he could see the entrance. Since he was too focused on his target to notice, he plummeted directly into the snow. It was deeper than he first thought as it towered a full head higher than the top of his helmet. He glared at the hole above him and came to a decision. Coughing out the melting snow from his throat, crouched as much as he could, and then leaped.
His large body crashed against the snow’s edge, and when he felt himself sliding back into the hole, he jumped forward again. He forced himself through the snow with a blind determination that not even the Crystal Guardian could stop. The ice in his lungs made it hard to breathe, but he pushed on. It wasn't until his strength was sapped by the snow did he collapse.
Noticing that he wasn't sinking, he slowly lifted his head to figure out what was going on. The floor was still cold, but hard. His pupils shrunk when he realized that he was at the mouth of a small cave. He pushed himself to his hooves, gathering what little strength he still had, and looked around.
The cave was small and filled with rocks of all sizes. Deciding to lean against the largest one by the entrance, he let himself breathe so he could recover. For a moment, he wondered if he was in the right place. Looking up at the full moon, he figured that he would soon find out. He gulped in nervousness as the moon went higher into the sky. He straightened up and let a smile slowly form on his face when he saw that the rocks had begun to glow a soft white. When the large rock he was leaning on began to glow brighter than the others, he ignored his exhaustion and charged into the cave, determined to beat the beam of light that had suddenly shot out of the rock and bounced on the walls of the cave.
He raced down the tunnel until he came to a small pool of clear water. His brown eyes focused on the small patch of green flower buds sitting on a patch of dirt in the middle. He held his breath when the beam of light suddenly hit the unopened flowers before disappearing in a bright flash of light.
He watched in wonder as the green stems began to turn a dark blue. Once their color half changed, the flowers began to blossom. Each one had six, snow-white petals curling outwards to form brilliant stars. When they had stretched to their fullest, a trail of ice blue began to travel down the petals as if a brush had just painted them. When the blue stopped midway, every single blossom began to glow softly, giving off the only light in the cave.
Taking a step forward, he waded into the surprisingly warm water until he reached the flower patch. Picking a small hoof-full with his magic, he carefully brought them to his side before getting out of the water and heading out of the cave.
Once outside, he noticed that the Winter Lilies were as bright as the full moon that hung in the night sky. He was going to head back the way he came, but stopped as he noticed a faint trail of silver light heading down a different path down the mountain. He soon realized that the light was coming from the flowers themselves. Feeling a sense of safety from the light, he followed it, somehow knowing that it would lead him safely down the mountain.
“And then what happened?” a young filly's voice cried out.
“Patience. Let me finish and you’ll find out,” a colt softly said.
“Well, hurry up!” she impatiently said as the colt chuckled.
“Alright. Now hush and let me read,” he playfully answered back.
Quick Silver brought up his large hoof and knocked on the heavy door in front of him, hiding the flowers behind his back. He paid no mind to his messy appearance. After his long trip down the mountain and to his town, he did not stop until he had reached the large palace at its heart. The Hearth’s Warming Eve was that night, and he simply couldn't wait until the actual day.
He snapped out of his trance as the door slowly opened to reveal a blue, winged unicorn mare. A small, silver tiara sat atop a baby blue mane streaked with white. A matching tail gently swayed back and forth. Her dark blue eyes brightened when she saw him.
She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted as a bouquet of white blossoms, surrounded by gray magic, suddenly appeared before her. With a gasp, she carefully grasped them with her own white magic. Sitting down, she cradled them as if they were a foal; she looked up at Quick Silver in wonder.
“Happy Hearth’s Warming,” he joyfully said.
“Are these…” she whispered.
“Winter Lilies,” he confirmed.
“How did you get these?” She knew how difficult they were to get. The only way to even find the path was to get past the Crystal Guardian since it was hidden by magic.
“Through a lot of work, but nothing that I can’t handle. Just another day for your favorite member of the Royal Guard. Taking on the impossible,” he spoke while puffing out his chest in pride.
“Why go through all the trouble?” His chest deflated as he lovingly looked in her eyes. His own brown ones were as gentle as his voice.
“You said that your father gave them to your mother, and his father before him, and his father before him. Said you wanted to marry somepony determined enough to follow the tradition for you…to bring back a flower of equal beauty to their special somepony.”
Her eyes had begun to fill with tears as he spoke. She broke his gaze as she looked down at the perfect, glowing lilies in her hooves. Firmly grabbing them with their magic, she stood up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before wrapping her arms around him. Raising his hooves, he brought her into a tight hug. They stood there for what seemed like hours until he heard a small thank you being whispered in his ear.
She slowly pulled away and turned around, pausing at the door. Turning to look at him with a smile, she walked inside. His body filled with warmth as he followed her inside before softly closing the door behind him.
“And then what happened!?” a purple filly’s voice cracked.
“They lived happily ever after, Twilight,” the colt laughed as he closed the book. Sitting at the edge of his sister’s bed, he looked at her, who in turn was staring at him from under her covers. Her bright, violet eyes shone with wonder.
“Shining!” she called out.
“What is it?” He tilted his head in curiosity.
“Are you gonna marry a princess when you become a guard too?” He tousled her purple mane with his hoof despite her protests. He had a wide grin on his face.
“You bet, kiddo.”
“And you’re gonna protect her and and everything?” She asked, almost as if making sure that he meant it.
“Duh,” he gave her nose a small tap.
“Even from monsters? Are you gonna fight ‘em like a knight too?” His grin only grew as she began to hit the air as if he was fighting an invisible enemy with her smaller hooves. She was determined to defeat the invisible monster.
“How are you going to do it?” She questioned him.
“I’m gonna join the Royal Guard like Quick Silver, and I’m gonna be the best guard ever! I’ll even be the captain! I’ll protect Equestria, my princess, mom and dad, and I’ll even protect you from all the scary monsters when the time comes! Just you wait!” She couldn't help but giggle as he struck as heroic a pose as he could while still holding the storybook in his hoof with an enthusiastic, goofy smile.
Standing up, he set the book down on the nightstand next to Twilight’s bed before heading to the door. Stopping by a lamp on the wall, he assured his sister with a smile.
“You just watch, Twilight. I’m gonna do it, and nothing will stop me. Now get some rest or you’ll be too tired for your entrance exam at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.”
“Can you read me another one of Quick Silver’s stories?” she innocently called out.
“Go to sleep, Twilight. I’ll read you another tomorrow. Good night and good luck with your test tomorrow,” he said with a chuckle as he turned off the lights.
“G’night,” she replied with a yawn. She watched him close the door, leaving her to herself. Looking out the window at the falling snow, she whispered to herself before curling up under her blanket with a smile.
Her eyelids closed as she drifted off to sleep, smile firmly in place.